BY TAYE OBATERU, SAM EYOBOKA & SUSAN EDEH
SECTARIAN crisis in the northern part of the country, especially in Plateau and Bauchi States which has claimed hundreds of lives took a dramatic turn, yesterday, as the State Security Service and the police averted a bomb blast in a church in Bauchi even as anti-riot police corporal was slain and an inspector injured by hoodlums as they tried to repel an invasion of the students’ hostels of the University of Jos
In Bauchi, the death toll in the crisis that engulfed Tafawa Balewa Local Government has been put at 20 even as 20 suspects had been arrested with dangerous weapons including guns believed to have been used during the crisis.
The Bauchi State chapter of the Nigerian Red Cross Society declared that 4,000 people were displaced as a result of the crisis. Also the Borno Police Command said it had arrested 19 suspects in connection with the killing of the ANPP governorship candidate Alhaji Modu Gubio and six others in Maiduguri.
SSS, police avert bomb blast in Bauchi
Security operatives, yesterday, said they averted a bomb blast attempt by an unknown person during a church service in Bauchi.
The state’s Police Commissioner, Muhammad Indabawa and the Director of State Security Services, SSS, Mr Adeola Ajayi, separately disclosed this at news conferences in Bauchi.
Ajayi said that an unknown bomber had gone to the United Methodist Church, UMC, opposite the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, ATBUTH, Bauchi, during a church service and dropped a bag which contained the improvised explosive.
The SSS boss said a member who saw the man with the bag trying to leave the church after he dropped it, raised an alarm while church members run after him but could not arrest him.
The man, the SSS chief added, had rushed to the motorcyclist who brought him and escaped to an unknown destination. Efforts by the police to arrest the suspect did not yield result as he had escaped, using the commercial motorcycle.
The explosive device, which was made with a metal casing, was jointly detonated by officers and men of the SSS and police.
Ajayi said investigation had started but appealed to the public to provide the security agents with relevant information that would ensure the security of lives and property.
Indabawa, at a news conference, said that following the receipt of the information from the church leaders, SSS personnel and some bomb experts attached to Governor Isa Yuguda detonated the explosive.
He noted that experts said if the bomb had exploded, it would have killed many people and destroyed many property. The police chief urged the people to be more vigilant and report any suspected person to security operatives.
In Jos an anti-riot police corporal was slain and an inspector injured by hoodlums as they tried to repel an invasion of the students’ hostels of the University of Jos.
Scores of hoodlums wielding sophisticated guns and other weapons were said to have attempted to gain entry into the Village Hostel of the university from the back though a place called Yelwa following which an alarm was raised.
A team of mobile policemen were said to have been deployed to the area but were attacked by the apparently well armed hoodlums who shot one of them and slit his throat forcing the others to retreat and call for reinforcement.
Gun battle with hoodlums
Soldiers of the Special Task Force, STF, who arrived later were also engaged in a gun battle with the hoodlums at the end of which 27 of the hoodlums were arrested.
Parading the suspects some of whom had gunshot wounds on Sunday, Commander of the STF, Brigadier General Hassan Umoru said they received a distress call that the Students’ Village Hostel of the university was under attack following which he deployed his men in the area.
He said his men succeeded in entering the area called Wusau from the Naraguta village end after some difficulties and were met with stiff resistance from the hoodlums who engaged them.
He said gunshots were being fired from the surrounding hills which were difficult to penetrate by his men because of the terrain but that they stood their ground and were able to arrest 27 of the hoodlums whom he said were found with guns, bows, arrows and other dangerous weapons.
Umoru confirmed that his men recovered the remains of the mobile policeman which he said had been set ablaze and deposited them at an un-named hospital.
The tension generated by the clash between students of the University of Jos and some hoodlums since Friday over the stabbing of two of their colleagues degenerated on Saturday resulting in killings and burning of property.
It took the prompt intervention of security men to avert another violence in Chobe area of the city on Sunday following the alleged arrest of a man in the area with suspected explosives. Residents of the area were said to have trooped out to lynch the man following which his kinsmen reportedly trooped out poised for a fight.
Meanwhile, the Ulama Elders Council in the state on Sunday reiterated its call for the declaration of a state of emergency in the state in view of the deteriorating security situation.
The council in a statement signed by the Secretary, Ahmed Garba condemned the fresh outbreak of hostilities despite the presence of different security personnel during which, he said, filling stations, houses, vehicles and other property belonging to Muslims were destroyed.
According to the statement, “The Council is afraid that the blackmail of the Plateau State Government against the STF appears to be forcing the outfit into inaction” and urged the Presidency and the National Assembly to act “as a matter of urgency and in the interest of the continued existence of the country, to come together and impose a state of emergency on Plateau State.”
Tafawa Balewa crisis: 20 killed, 20 suspects arrested, 4000 displaced
The death toll in the crisis that engulfed Tafa Balewa crisis, Bauchi state has been put at 20 even as 20 suspects have been arrested with dangerous weapons including guns believed to have been used during the crisis while the Nigerian Red Cross Society Bauchi State Chapter declared that 4,000 people were displaced as a result of the crisis. Also the Borno Police Command says it has arrested 19 suspects in connection with the killing of the ANPP governorship candidate Alhaji Modu Gubio and six others in Maiduguri.
On the Bauchi State crisis Bauchi state Police Commissioner, Mohammed Abdulkadir Indabawa in a telephone interview disclosed that some of the bodies could not be recognized because they were completely burnt adding that it was when people started looking for their relations that the bodies were discovered after serious searches.
He added that as soon as investigations were concluded all those arrested will be arraigned in court saying that no one will be detained without trials.
Resettlement of victims
Meanwhile the State Secretary of Red Cross Society of Nigeria, Abubakar Adamu said, “the Red Cross has resettled 3480 people in Bununu Central Primary School majority of them women and children, seven injured people are presently receiving treatment and we have also resettled 120 persons majority of them women and children in Gontakurwa village because their houses were burnt down during the crisis. “
According to him, “presently we don’t have anything to give them but we have started discussions with the state government, we are also appealing to well to do individuals to assist us with Water, food stuffs, medicine, clothes, mats and blankets and any other assistance that will help the displaced persons to ease their hardships”
Police arrest 19 suspects in Maiduguri
Meanwhile the Borno Police Command says it has arrested 19 suspects in connection with the killing of the ANPP governorship candidate and six others in Maiduguri.
Malam Lawal Abdullahi, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, in the state, said in Maiduguri that the suspects were arrested in different parts of the city.